Believe it or not, the home automation segment is surging – and shows no inclination that it will slow down anytime soon. In fact, sales of networked home devices are expected to reach $3.5 billion by 2018, a nearly $2 billion increase of 2015’s sales. With growth like that, you’d expect that nearly every home in North America to contain at least a few home automation products – and yet, that doesn’t seem to be the case. That may be about to change, courtesy of a New York-based start-up, Quirky, whose subsidiary company Wink, is quickly filling a much-needed gap in the industry.

 

There are no shortages of Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, and Z-Wave enabled products on the market today. In fact, consumers can find more than 600 smart home devices at Home Depot stores alone. What makes homeowners hesitant about purchasing them is, getting the products to recognize each other and work together as part of one, easy-to-use system is rather cumbersome, if not completely impossible. Yes, there are hubs, (centralized integration devices designed to allow you to control your smart home devices through a single platform) but even the most widely used hubs available are only compatible with a relatively small amount of devices.

 

This is where Wink plans to make its mark. Rather than focusing on the development of smart home hardware, the fledgling company’s primary focus will be on creating software that will essentially act as the equivalent of an open operating system that will help to connect many different smart home devices. The end goal of course is that the homeowner, using Wink’s smartphone and tablet app, can effortlessly program their many devices to work in conjunction with one another. For instance, having their home lighting come on when their automated door is unlocked. Up to this point, it has been this lack of connectivity and synchronicity that has kept home automation technology from taking off at an even greater rate than it already has.

 

Smart Home Technology – The Most Sought After Devices

 

Knowing that there’s a more viable integration solution, homeowners can now feel just a little more confident when purchasing home appliances and devices that they can control remotely with their handheld devices. The question then becomes, where to start? Should the focus be on devices that help to reduce utility costs, or promote security? Below is a list of some of the most common types of home automation products that homeowners are investing in today:

 

1. Thermostats

 

Though admittedly not the most interesting features of the conventional home, automated thermostats that learn your preferences over time and make adjustments as seasons change have become one of the most sought after devices in the home automation segment. The most compelling thing about automated thermostats offered by Nest, a leading developer of smart thermostat tech, is that as they learn your preferences and your schedule, the heating and cooling of your home becomes something that you needn’t worry about. Devices like a Nest thermostat are well worth the investment because they feature a very simple installation (typically around 30 minutes) and through temperature optimization help to lower your monthly utility costs.

 

2. Automated Window Coverings

Like a smart thermostat, automated window blinds can be programmed to not only help keep your home, also works for commercial buildings, at a reasonable and comfortable temperature by limiting the amount of direct sunlight that enters through the windows, they also help to increase your privacy from nosy neighbours or those passing by. Additionally, the fact that motorized window shades can be controlled remotely makes the home to appear lived in, even when the homeowner is away.

 

3. Automated Door Locks

 

It goes without saying that the most sought after smart home technologies tend to be the ones that will see the most use. Smart locks, like those offered by Kwikset, Okidokeys, and Goji, can all be unlocked without the use of a key, making it so much easier to enter your home whether you’re coming home late at night, have an armful of groceries, or a small child in tow. Though typically a standalone device, those that are labeled as Wink compatible can be programmed to work with other systems as we mentioned in an earlier example.

 

The future of home automation certainly looks bright, perhaps even more so now that a company like Wink is leading the charge to help make all of these devices work seamlessly together. The most marketable feature of any of these products should be about making life easier for the end user; now that Wink is developing the software to do just that, this vision can finally begin to materialize.

 

Published by Steffen Ploeger